Audiobook Review: The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan

31 01 2013

The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan

Read by Rick Zieff

Hachette Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 53 Min

Genre: Legal Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Layer’s Lawyer grabbed me from the beginning, and kept me ensnared the entire time. Full of engrossing characters,  touching friendships, heart shaking twists and high stakes courtroom action, The Lawyer’s Lawyer sets the bar quite high for this year’s batch of Legal Thrillers.

Grade: A-

I have always considered myself a pretty solid pop culture armchair lawyer. I am not a lawyer, nor have I had any legal training beyond a few college courses. Yet, I have watched and read enough legal fare, both fiction and nonfiction, to get annoyed at episodes of Law & Order. I like to watch Legal TV Shows, and read Legal Thrillers and figure out my strategies, what I would do in a courtroom, and blather to my friends about why those idiotic fictional lawyers are doing wrong. In fact, before life got in my way, I wanted to go to Law School and become the next Bobby Donnell or Jack McCoy. Yet, in no way do I actually know even a percentage of what a Lawyer knows. The thing is, when I watch these shows or read the books, I like to be the analytic type. I got shocked when a fictional detective would fudge things in their investigation. Don’t they know that when they are hunting a serial killer they should go above and beyond to adhere to the law to prevent the killer getting off on a technicality? And what if they have the wrong guy!  I get livid with those cops, or even the victim’s families that rudely chastise Defense attorneys. These people are doing a very important job. Sometimes, in my desire to be the technical; analytical lawyer type, I forget that these cases are about people. Emotional and flawed people. People who want to bring the killer to justice. People who have their lives turned upside down. People who bring their own ethics and morality to a case.

After years running his own firm, Jack Tobin is now living in a small town in Florida, taking a few small cases, and working with a non-profit defending Death Row cases. When asked to take a look at the case of a potential serial killer on death row which he may have a personal connection to, Jack is hesitant. Yet, something about the case isn’t quite right, and Jack finds himself fighting for his life amidst public outrage, corruption and murder.  James Sheehan’s latest entry in the Jack Tobin series had me enthralled from the very beginning. While The Lawyer’s Lawyer offers everything fans of Courtroom thriller would want it goes beyond that to include a hunt for a deadly killer, a realistic adult love story, and a tale of obsession and revenge. This wasn’t a typical, by-the-number’s legal tale. Sheehan takes a lot of risks here, and it truly pays off. Sheehan does an excellent job showing the human side of the legal process, with its inherent flaws and its ability to be manipulated yet he also manages to maintain some levels of faith in the process. While I really liked Jack Tobin, at times I found him to be too upstanding. I’m not sure if it’s the cynical side of me, but some of the decision that Jack made, I had trouble seeing someone make. Yet, I think that Sheehan did a good job keeping Jack’s nature consistent. I also had some level of frustration with the ending. Not that the ending was bad. It was a little pat, and in someway justified many of the issues I had with Jack’s decisions. This was what bothered me. On some level, I wanted to think that my ideas were better than Jack’s so I wanted there to be more consequences when we disagreed. This is one of the problems for me with legal thrillers, I insert myself a bit too much in the narrative. Yet, it’s a true testament to Sheehan’s plots and the characters he develops that I became so invested in the story. There were moments in the story that made me so upset, I was literally yelling at the characters, or flinging profanities in their direction. The Layer’s Lawyer grabbed me from the beginning, and kept me ensnared the entire time. Full of engrossing characters, touching friendships and heart shaking twists, The Lawyer’s Lawyer sets the bar quite high for this year’s batch of Legal Thrillers.

This is my first experience with narrator Rick Zieff and I sincerely hope it’s not my last. Zieff takes over the Jack Tobin role from Disk Hill and doesn’t miss a beat. He has a pleasant but gruff voice, that’s gritty yet manages to capture the slick oratory of the courtroom. His characterizations are spot on and well considered. He uses the clues the author gives to create authentic voices infusing each character with life.He does a good job with the humor of the tale, delivery the snarky back in forth with the right amount of levity His pacing, whether it be the laid back jocular bar talk of Jack and his friends, or the almost hypnotic rhythms of the courtroom, was impeccable. I think what I really loved about Zieff’s performance was how it just felt real. I didn’t feel like I was being read to by a professional voice artist Instead, I felt pulled into the story like I was sitting in the gallery experiencing the action first hand. Zieff impressed me as a narrator, and I definitely will be looking for his name in the future.

Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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